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Man in handcuffs for family violence charges

What are the types of domestic abuse that constitute family violence offenses in Texas? 

Madson Castello Law May 22, 2023

The Texas Family Code defines family violence as an act by one member of the household against another member of the household with the intent to inflict harm, or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm.  Thus, regardless of whether harm was inflicted, if the action results in fear of harm, family violence charges can be brought. 

In considering the broadness of the law addressing assault against a family member in Texas, it is easy to imagine a scenario where even a minor argument between two household members – on any topic that both disagree – could end with someone being driven off to jail in a pair of handcuffs. If that someone, is you, the need to consult an attorney first and foremost cannot be stressed enough. 

“Part of the frustration with the law is not just the complexity, but also the overlap certain offenses have,” TexasLawChanges.com states in an article titled “Domestic Violence Laws and Penalties In Texas” that discusses the penalties for assault in Texas. “Domestic violence is one of the primary examples as the relevant sections of the official state sources touch on both the penal code and the family code. Even further complicating matters, there is no specific penalty for “Domestic Violence” even though it’s among the most common offenses in the state and the most well-known. Instead of the term Domestic Violence, Texas has a different classification of penalties for ‘Family Violence’ and ‘Assault.’ 

“Essentially the Domestic Violence or Domestic Assault are combinations of terms put into use by the state penal code and family code where applicable,” the TexasLawChanges.com article continues. “When necessary, the state invents phrases, such as ‘Aggravated Assault’, to implement specific penalties or regulations for that kind of offense.” 

The article describes family violence as a catchall term. As such, you could quickly get swallowed up in the serious consequences of charged family violence offenses that might forever alter your freedom. 

“As we referenced above, this law is a little tricky conceptually,” the article states. “The idea is that an action could be the same as another action (say the hitting of a person that causes an injury) however results in different outcomes…because there’s more at stake and their offense shows a greater degree of negligence.” 

The Texas Penal Code identifies a family member as anyone who is: 

  • Related by blood, for which the legalese is consanguinity 

  • A former spouse 

  • A parent of the same child 

It should be noted that marriage and / or cohabitation between parties are irrelevant in the eyes of the law as long as an individual fits into one of the categories above 

What constitutes family violence in Texas? Texas uses three criteria to determine such. 

  • As previously mentioned: an action by one member of the household against another member of the household with the intent to inflict harm or serious bodily injury 

  • Abuse by one member of the household against a child in the household 

  • Dating violence 

What are some of the consequences of a family violence assault charge? 

Assault offenses against the family range from a Class A misdemeanor to a first-degree felony with fines, jail time or both. 

“To put it simply, the penalties for domestic violence will depend on the nature of the charge,” according to the TexasLawChanges.com article. “Additionally, the conviction becomes part of a criminal record. Domestic violence charges impact your ability to vote and look for jobs. If it includes a sexual offense, and you get convicted, then you may also need to register as a sex offender.” 

How does a criminal defense attorney defend against family violence assault charges? 

A reputable law firm with experienced lawyers will defend you from the get-go, often fighting on your behalf as soon as a case is filed by a law-enforcement agency. Hiring a well-versed criminal defense attorney is your best shot at protecting yourself from assault on a family member charges, compounded assault charges, upgraded assault charges, and aggravated assault charges in Texas. 

TexasLawChanges.com explains, “To be clear, we are not a law firm and we are only stating what relevant and useful information may exist on relevant issues. That being said, being falsely charged with abuse is a major issue in the state of Texas and around the country. No matter what the crime is, you always have the right to defend yourself. However, the law about how to go about doing so can be tricky. Though we hate to admit it, given the scope, potential penalties, and emotional charge inherent in such cases, it’s best to consult an attorney if ever charged with domestic violence.” 

What are some of the most commonly charged family violence offenses in Dallas?  

Among them are physical abuse, sex crimes including rape, financial control and emotional, mental and verbal abuse meant to intimidate. Here are detailed descriptions of physical abuse and sex crimes including rape: 

  • “Physical abuse includes slapping, beating, hitting, kicking, punching, pinching, biting, choking, pushing, grabbing, shaking, or burning another person,” Verywell Mind states in an article titled “What Is Domestic Abuse?”  

  • “Sexual abuse also includes any form of sexual contact between an adult and a person below the age of 18.” 

  • “Financial abuse…involves taking control of an individual’s finances by controlling their income, restricting their ability to work, or accumulating debts in their name.” 

Here are detailed descriptions of intimidation and threats: 

  • Emotional or psychological abuse, which includes yelling, cursing, name-calling, bullying, coercing, humiliating, gaslighting, harassing, infantilizing, threatening, frightening, isolating, manipulating, or otherwise controlling another person…can be just as harmful as sexual or physical abuse,” according to the Verywell Mind article.” 

One of the aggravating factors that can increase the penalties in a family violence case is “continuous violence” against the family. The Texas Penal Code’s language on that aspect is as follows: 

  • An engagement of conduct that constitutes, or is considered to be, aggravated assault with the intent to inflict harm occurring twice (or more) in a one-year period by one member of the household against another member of the household 


Here are a couple of links to family violence resources in Dallas, Denton, Collins and Tarrant: 

Texas Penal Code – Assaultive Offenses – Chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code defines many of the state’s domestic assault and aggravated domestic assault offenses. The chapter defines the elements to many family violence-related crimes and the punishments if an individual  is found guilty of an offense. 

Texas Penal Code – Offenses Against the Family – Chapter 25 of the Texas Penal Code defines many family violence offenses, including protective order violations and continued violence against the family, as well as the penalties an individual could face if  found guilty of the offense. 


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